Decoding and Developing Online Finding Aids with EAD Workshop

Workshop presented for the Library Technology Conference on March 20, 2013


Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate basic understanding of structure and function of XML
  • Recognize and understand basic elements of Encoded Archival Description
  • Understand how XML and EAD work to create Finding Aids
  • Apply XML knowledge to other Digital Projects

Outline and Slides

  1. Introduction and Purpose
  2. HTML and XML
  3. EAD Basics
  4. Break
  5. EAD, Stylesheets, and CONTENTdm
  6. Other Fun Stuff – Digital Humanities, Web

Tools for Workshop

Text Editors – For Windows Notepad plus plus icon Notepad++, For Mac BBEdit

Activate Trial License of Oxygen XML Editor Oxygen XML Editor Shortcut 

Hypertext Markup Language HTML

Define <markup_language>





XPath = markup_language/html

HTML file – example of Describing Archives book

		<h1>Describing Archives</h1>
		<h2>Society of American Archivists</h2>

HTML Exercise

Step 1 Copy the HTML Book File above.

Step 2 Open text editor Notepad++ or BBEdit and paste HTML Book File

Step 3 See slides 19-20 and add a table to the HTML file

Step 4 Click and open this link in a new tab – W3Schools HTML

Step 5 In a text editor copy the HTML and paste it into the W3Schools

eXtensible Markup Language XML







XPath = markup_language/xml

See slides 21-29

Jennifer Widom Lecture excerpt (1 minute 49 seconds) on 3 basic components of XML (1:15-3:04)

  1. Element
  2. Attribute
  3. Text

XML Bookstore Document

		<title>Describing Archives</title>
		<author>Society of American Archivists</author>

XML Exercise

Step 1. Copy the XML Bookstore Document above and paste in your text editor

Step 2. Open Oxygen and create a new XML document.

Step 3. Paste XML Bookstore Document into new Oxygen file.

Step 4. Compare text editor and Oxygen files.

Step 5. Make your own book using the example and paste it in the XML Results Document

Encoded Archival Description EAD


XPath = markup_language/xml/ead

See slides 30-37

Lundquist Presidential Papers EAD file

EAD Exercise

Step 1. Download  Lundquist Presidential Papers EAD to your computer

Step 2. Find the EAD template (NWDA) in Oxygen and open it.

Step 3. Review some of the main tags in Bethel’s EAD Manual

Step 4. Open Lundquist Presidential Papers EAD example

Step 5. Replace Bethel-specific information with your own institution’s


Cascading Stylesheets CSS

Slide 39

The code within the <style> tags is CSS

	body {
	h1 {
		color:orange; text-align:center;
	h2 {
	p {
		color:red; font-family:"Times New Roman"; font-size:20px;

In the W3Schools HTML Tryit Editor, add the code above between <head> and </head> to your previous HTML document and insert it between <html> and <body>

See how your document changes. This is how CSS relates to HTML. XML has a similar relationship to something called XSLT.

eXtensible Stylesheet Language Transformations XSLT


XPath = markup_language/xml/ead/xslt

Slides 40-45

See XSLT Tutorial in W3Schools

XSLT Exercise

Step 1 Download the XSLT Sample Files that come from the EAD Cookbook

Step 2 Open your EAD file and try the Transform functions in both Notepad++ and Oxygen

Step 3 In Notepad:

3.1. In top menu, choose Plugins

3.2. Select XML Tools –> XSL Transformations –> Click top right button

Notepad plus plus xslt

3.3. Select the EAD Cookbook 8 file

3.4. Save resulting file as html

3.5. View in browser

Step 4 In Oxygen:

4.1. Click the Wrench with Red Arrow button

Oxygen XSLT button

4.2. Click “New”

4.3 Select the EAD Cookbook 8 xsl file

4.4. Click “Apply Associated”

4.5. Save resulting file as html

4.6. View in browser

To fix a display error (slide 45), I consulted EAD documentation on <container> tag.

You should now have a sample EAD file to use for your Finding Aid.